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The coldest weather during an already cold and snowy winter is what area residents are waking up to this morning, with the frigid temperatures expected to stick around through Friday.
Steve McLaughlin, National Weather Service meteorologist, said the cold front that moved in Tuesday night, which was expected to bring an additional 3 to 6 inches of snow to the area, will give way to temperatures in the teens with a little more lake-effect snow expected throughout the day today.
Visibility was limited Tuesday as strong winds blew snow through the air, causing whiteout conditions in some areas. Pictured is the intersection of Baker Street Extension and Southwestern Drive around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
P-J photo by Robert Rizzuto
''There won't be much accumulation, but the cold will intensify throughout the day into Thursday morning,'' he said. ''The coldest air of the season will hit, with single-digit temperatures expected on Thursday when it will reach 5 to 10 degrees below (zero) overnight. On Friday the temperatures will climb back into the teens.''
With the cold temperatures, it's important to keep everyone warm, including pets.
Sue Bobek, Humane Society community relations coordinator, said once the temperatures fall below 20 degrees, it is their recommendation to bring dogs and cats inside until temperatures warm up. As far as hazards that could hurt pets during the winter, Ms. Bobek said paying attention to possible antifreeze spills is very important.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW FROM THE AAA:
Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for retraining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning - nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
The normal dry pavement following distance of two to three seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety in front will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
Don't stop if you can avoid it. There's a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until the light changes, do it.
Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don't tempt fate: If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ALSO GIVES THE FOLLOWING TIPS:
Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze or become lost.
During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm as dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him and his fur in tip-top shape.
Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
''The number one thing to watch for is antifreeze. It tastes sweet to cats and dogs,'' she said. ''Once they eat it, get them medical attention immediately. It can cause serious medical issues for pets that can lead to death.''
Ms. Bobek also said if your pet is outside a lot during the winter, make sure to leave extra food. She said the pet will burn more calories trying to keep their body warm, which means they need more calories to burn to stay healthy. Plus, make sure to check frequently that there is a sufficient amount of fresh water.
ON THE ROAD
Anytime the temperatures dip into the single digits, it is also important to pay special attention to your vehicle. The American Automobile Association recommends taking several steps to make sure your ride is ready to go when you are.
At the top of the list is making sure cars have at least a half-full tank of gas, as it is less likely to freeze leaving you stuck. It might not be a bad idea to pour a container of dry gas inside the tank as an extra precaution either. Allowing time for the vehicle to warm up - in an open area - is also recommenced in order to keep the engine running properly.
There are also a couple common-sense recommendations such as using your seat belt and brushing snow off of every window and light, rather than driving through a small window of visibility which can lead to danger for both the driver as well as others on the road.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace said law enforcement agencies throughout the area were extremely busy Tuesday as accident reports flooded in from every corner of the county.
He said that as of dinner time Tuesday, there were almost a dozen active accidents around the county, not to mention the others throughout the day.
Perhaps the No. 1 thing people can do to avoid the possibility of being involved in a crash during the winter is simply slowing down, Gerace said.
''The law states that it is illegal to drive at a speed which is not reasonable and prudent for the conditions, and that may be well below the posted speed limit,'' he said. ''People should also re-evaluate the necessity of taking a trip. If it can be put off until another day, it's a good idea to wait.''
KEEP HYDRANTS CLEAR
Jamestown Fire Department Battalion Chief Don Woodfield said they have been working hard to keep the more than 1,200 fire hydrants in the city clear over the past week, but need help from the public.
''When we have an emergency situation and we can't find the hydrant because it is buried, it's not good for anyone,'' he said. ''Any help we can get from the public is greatly appreciated.''
The department is asking citizens who might be snowblowing or shoveling in an area around a hydrant to try and clear it while they are working. He said this may be as simple as clearing off the top of the hydrant so crews can see it.
''We've been putting off a lot of our daytime work to go out into the city and clear the hydrants,'' Woodfield said. ''But with all this snow that keeps coming, it is hard for us to be everywhere.''
He also asked that private plow operators be aware of hydrants and the city code which prohibits anyone from moving snow onto a fire hydrant. It happens sometimes, he said, but he asked for people to do the right thing and clear the hydrant afterward for everyone's safety.